Friday, November 18, 2011


Cook County Judge to Release Two Englewood Men

After Serving Nearly 17 Years for a Rape and Murder That

New DNA Evidence Shows They Didn’t Commit

Days After the Circuit Court Judge Vacated Their Convictions, Michael Saunders and Harold Richardson are expected to be released from Cook County Jail Today

What: Two Englewood men are expected to walk out of prison today, after serving nearly 17 years for a rape and murder that new DNA evidence shows they didn’t commit. Teenagers at the time of their convictions, all men were interrogated without a family member or guardian present and were coerced into confessing to the crime. The release comes two days after a Cook County Circuit Court judge vacated their convictions. DNA recovered from murder victim Nina Glover’s body was uploaded to the FBI DNA database and hit Johnny Douglas earlier this year. Douglas, 32 at the time of the crime, was present on November 7, 1994, at 7 a.m. when Glover’s naked body was recovered from the dumpster. Douglas was later convicted of a very similar murder, the strangulation of sex worker Gytonne Marsh in 1997. Douglas’ DNA also matched the semen recovered from the strangulation-murder of sex worker Elaine Martin, but he was found not guilty of that crime. During Martin’s murder trial, the State’s Attorney’s Office sought to introduce evidence that Douglas was responsible for at least five other violent physical assaults of sex workers between March 1993 and September 1997.

Who: Wrongfully convicted: Michael Saunders and Harold Richardson

Attorneys: Craig Cooley, Staff Attorney, of the Innocence Project; Tara Thompson of the Exoneration Project of the University of Chicago Law School

Where: Cook County Courthouse

West 26th Street and South California Avenue
Chicago, IL

When: Friday, November 18, 2011

4 p.m. CST

Why: On Wednesday, the judge set bail for Michael Saunders and Harold Richardson, who have both served 17 years—more than half of their lives – in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. The two other men who were wrongfully convicted of this crime are already out. Terrill Swift is out on parole and Vincent Thames recently completed his sentence and was released.

Prosecutors must decide later this year whether to dismiss the charges against them.


CHICAGO TRIBUNE STORY; STEVE MILLS; (Report on today's hearing);

New trials ordered for 4 in 1994 rape, murder

  • Vincent Thames (center) and Terrill Swift (right) stand at a press conference announcing their new trials, as well as for Michael Saunders and Harold Richardson, in the 1994 murder of Nina Glover in Englewood. DNA evidence has implicated another person in the crimes, casting doubt on the original four convictions for the crime.
Vincent Thames (center) and Terrill Swift (right) stand at a press conference… (Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune)
November 16, 2011|By Steve Mills | Tribune reporter

A Cook County judge today ordered new trials for four men who served long prison terms for a 1994 murder and rape.

Paul Biebel, the presiding judge at the Criminal Courts Building, said he based the decision on DNA evidence recovered from the victim and linked to a convicted murderer.

The four were teenagers when they were convicted in the slaying of 30-year-old Nina Glover in the Englewood neighborhood. All confessed.

Michael Saunders and Harold Richardson are still in prison. Terrill Swift is out on parole. Vincent Thames has served his sentence but must register as a sex offender because of the rape conviction.

At a hearing last month before Biebel, Joshua Tepfer, an attorney at Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, said a recent DNA test linked Johnny Douglas to Glover's murder. Before he was shot to death in 2008, Douglas was convicted of murdering another woman, acquitted of a second homicide and was a suspect in other murders and sexual assaults.

Tepfer said Glover's murder followed Douglas' “pattern and practice” of strangling prostitutes during a sexual encounter.

He also said that no semen evidence linked the four convicted defendants to the crime.

Tepfer argued that even though all four confessed to the murder, the trial would have ended differently if the judge knew the DNA belonged to Douglas.

But Assistant State's Attorney Mark Ertler said the new evidence was “not significant enough to merit new trials.”

Glover, he said, was known to exchange sex for drugs, so it was “not surprising” she came in contact with Douglas and “other unsavory characters.” Douglas' DNA wasn't necessarily left on Glover at the time of her murder, Ertler contended.

Attorneys for the men said Douglas' DNA proves the confessions were false and that the four men's youth at the time made them vulnerable to coercion, even if it was unintentional on the part of police. They also said the confessions differed on some key details.


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;;